Catherine Gates says her neighbor has talked about burning his side of their duplex trailer down for the past week.
"He said I'm going to torch it," Gates said. "I didn't take him seriously. Who the hell, who is going to believe somebody would snap like that and do that?"
She says Daniel Burke has been noticeably agitated lately due to a number of personal issues, including a recent arrest on child sex abuse allegations.
"He promised me he would never do anything to hurt me or make me lose my home," Gates said.
But Burke's problems got worse Wednesday evening when he was arrested for alleged drunk driving downtown. He was processed at the station. A friend brought him to his home on Charles Way. Shortly after, a neighbor called police claiming they heard Burke breaking glass.
"They went to that location; they could see Mr. Burke inside the trailer. They tried to get him at the door, they knocked, he turned the lights off and then the officers could see flames," Plattsburgh Police Lt. Pat Rascoe said.
Two officers then forced their way into the home. They fought off the smoke and flames in an effort to locate Burke. They found him in his bedroom and on fire. They then dragged him outside.
"They were able to roll him on the ground and put out the flames on his body," Rascoe said.
Seconds later the home burst into flames. Police believe it had been doused with a flammable liquid. The fire was so intense it ignited part of a neighboring trailer and melted the siding on another home. Burke is hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns over half of his body. Four police officers were treated for smoke inhalation.
"I'm going to get through it; I'll get back on my feet," Gates said.
The fire left Gates homeless. Her side of the duplex was severely damaged, too. She's just grateful to have escaped with her pets and a few personal belongings.
"All of a sudden I'm homeless," Gates said. "I'm going to be 59 years old, I should not be homeless."
The Red Cross is finding her temporary shelter.
Once Burke recovers from his burns, police expect to charge him with arson.
Friday, May 24 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:30:10 GMT
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.State Police say Route 5 in Derby Line is closed near Caswell Avenue because of a hole in the pavement just a couple of feet over the lineMore >>
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:54:18 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:25:14 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>